Looks can be deceiving – on first glance Docklands' commercial side seems to be a centre for big business campus-style accommodation, but if you delve a little bit further, hidden gems such as Site One, our incubator building adjacent to the Watergate complex, are revealed. And we mean gem literally – the entire northern façade is a diamond in the rough - but more on that later. We envisioned Site One as a corral for the small grain, creating spaces for small and micro-businesses to inhabit that would give them a collective identity as well as the amenity that larger-scale offices afford.
Site One’s layers are arranged sequentially; the building steps back from ground level to allow for the different requirements of the different typologies. The top three levels are small offices/home offices that offer apartment features including bedrooms, kitchenettes and bathrooms as well as a small meeting room in a variety of configurations – some are office dominant, some apartment dominant. The other levels offer strata offices of 80sqm suites and the bottom floors are 10sqm serviced offices. All tenants have access to the Site One Business Club, which is situated on Level 1 and has a receptionist, boardrooms and printing and copying facilities. This is small business accommodation with big business technology – the building receptionist can even buzz tenants when visitors arrive.
Back to the architecture and the jewel of the northern façade. We adjusted the typical window and split mullion by taking it off the production line one step early in order to create three-point hold windows. The staccato rhythm of the surface becomes refractive and irregular, and forms sun-shades: the sun hits the side of the glass rather than the glass itself.
The other side, facing Etihad Stadium, is the junction of natural and synthetic. Wire cables stretch from the building down into a spider web and a solitary flame-tree stands resolutely marking the seasons. The site has been master-planned with an arcade running from North to South across the site lined by retail tenancies.
We wanted to bring the fine grain of the CBD into Docklands. Site One allows the small businesses that Melbourne is renowned for to create connections with this precinct and enjoy the collective identity of distinctive architecture of place.
Description by the architects